Monday, December 3, 2012

        I found an article about how local perceptions and awareness of conservation impacts conservation efforts of coral reefs in Belize.  This paper starts by explaining how ecotourism can be beneficial to the coral reef ecosystems as well as the local people.  Tourism provides income for people (for example tour guides can charge tourists to take them out on snorkeling and boat tours).  Before Belize became a popular tourist hotspot, local communities relied primarily on fishing as their income but now that tourism is now a main source of income for many local households, economic pressures to overfish have decreased.  The money made by ecotourism also has been put towards creating more marine protected areas (MPA’s) as well as educating tourists and locals about the importance of conservation of marine ecosystems in Belize.  Conversely, tourism can also have negative impacts on coral reef conservation such as “pollution, direct contact of tourists, anchor damage, and sedimentation from coastal erosion and over-development” (985).  Interviews and surveys of locals’ perceptions of conservation were conducted in this paper and indicated that people living in coastal communities that had less tourism believed coral reefs should be protected for intrinsic reasons such as beauty, however people living in communities with heavy tourism said they should be conserved because it provides a source of income.  This study also found that fishermen’ support for protection of marine ecosystems is positively correlated to tourism development.  Fisherman in the study did not feel that tourism was having a negative impact on their lives.  This paper concludes that as long as government policies continue to direct benefits to local communities, conservation efforts will continue to protect coral reefs in Belize.  He warns that pollution mitigation must improve and impacts of tourism must be limited so that negative impacts on the ecosystems do not degrade the coral reefs.

Reference: Diedrich, A. (2007). The impacts of tourism on coral reef conservation awareness and support in coastal communities in belize. Coral Reefs, 26(4), 985-996. doi:

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